In a move that should go a long way toward preventing fragmentation of open-source Linux distributions, the Free Standards Group last week announced the availability of availability of Linux Standard Base 2.0—and support for it by most major Linux distribution vendors.
With 2.0, distributions that comply with LSB will now interoperate with application software written to the standard. The latest release includes a new ABI (application binary interface) for C++ that will enable software vendors to port applications to Linux. As a result, users should see an increase in application choices.
"Thousands of applications are written in C++," Jim Zemlin, the FSGs executive director, told eWEEK.
Support for 32- and 64-bit hardware architectures, including Intel Corp. platforms; IBMs PowerPC 64, S/390 and S/390x; and the 64-bit Opteron from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., has also been added to 2.0.
The new version updates some of the basic specifications and implementations underlying LSB and adds support for Single Unix Specification 3.0. LSB 2.0 also comes with test suites and a development environment, a sample implementation of a complete LSB-based distribution, and developer documentation.
Companies that support LSB 2.0 include AMD, Conectiva, Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel, Mandrakesoft S.A., Novell Inc., Red Flag Software Co. Ltd., Red Hat Inc. and Turbolinux Inc.
Linux vendors can write to the specification "starting immediately, but the process will take several months for all the distributions to certify, depending on their release cycles," Zemlin said.
Dan Frye, vice president of IBMs Linux Technology Center, in Beaverton, Ore., said LSB 2.0 is a big step forward in the maturation of Linux. "Our customers demand interoperability between their applications and Linux," Frye said. "By pledging to certify to the LSB, we send a clear message to our customers and ISVs that portability and the interoperability ... is a top priority for IBM and the industry."
Jon "Maddog" Hall, executive director of the nonprofit Linux International, of Amherst, N.H., said that as a developer, having to port his application to two Linux distributions was "one distribution too many. The LSB provides that specification. Without this, we are no better than the proprietary Unix systems of old."